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Regul Pept. 1998 Jan 2;73(1):67-72.

Metabolism of beta-endorphin in plasma studied by liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization mass spectrometry.

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Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Center for Molecular Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


Degradation of synthetic human beta-endorphin by a human plasma proteinase was studied with high-performance liquid chromatography in combination with mass spectrometry. The peptide was metabolized at a rate of 25 pmol/min to the major fragments beta-endorphin (1-19) and (20-31), the latter reported as a potent inhibitor of morphine- and beta-endorphin-induced analgesia in mice. The proteinase responsible for this process was classified as a metal-dependent serine proteinase and was effectively inactivated by phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid. Identification of the products formed during the enzymatic reaction was performed by liquid chromatography on-line with electrospray mass spectrometry, using a reversed-phase or a novel size-exclusion column capable of separating molecules between 0.1-7 kilodaltons. Peptide sequences were verified by tandem mass spectrometry experiments. The conversion of beta-endorphin may have physiological implications in the mechanism of pain. The obtained data suggest that several precautions should be considered during recovery and measurement of beta-endorphin in plasma by immunological techniques. The applied strategy may also be useful for studying metabolism of various peptidergic compounds with potential pharmacological significance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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